Submitted by Cong. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh)
Congressman Bill Owens sent a letter to Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) urging them to make good on their party’s pledge to increase transparency in Washington by including specific legislation in the new Rules package for the 112th Congress. The legislation, which Owens introduced last year would require that any bill or amendment introduced in the House include tracked changes showing what section of current law is being amended.
“The American people deserve complete transparency in government, and if the new majority in Congress is serious about their pledge to increase transparency in the way Washington crafts legislation, they will include this proposal in their rules package for the 112th Congress,” said Owens. “The general public should not be left in the dark about how pending bills propose changes to our nation’s laws, and this bill will help shed some light on how new laws affect us.”
New rules introduced by the incoming Republican majority in Congress propose that any new bill or joint resolution introduced must be accompanied by a short statement justifying the constitutionality of the legislation. Owens’ proposal would require any new bill that modifies existing law to include a “redlined” version that would show what section(s) of current law is being amended.
Currently, when legislation is introduced, the corresponding section of the law being amended is not shown, making it necessary to research the U.S. Code to determine exactly what changes the legislation would make. This makes it difficult for the general public to fully understand what laws are being changed, why they are being changed, and to get a better understanding of the intended and unintended consequences. Similar requirements already exist in the constitutions of several states, including Hawaii, Kansas, Illinois and Nevada.
“This is a practice that is used extensively to promote transparency and efficiency in the private sector, and should be employed by the government,” Owens added.